Cymru Culture

Fashion and Designers / Ffasiwn a Dylunwyr

Prêt-à-porter; Ideology of beauty in fashion

(April 22, 2018)

Isabelle Herring
Ideology of beauty in fashion

May 2018 edition of British Vogue, highlighting diversity
May 2018 edition of British Vogue, highlighting diversity in the fashion industry

The fashion industry is dominated by the idea of being ‘beautiful’. Images of what is seen as supposedly ‘perfect’ people seem to be on advertising posters everywhere you go; with their wonderful complexions symmetrical faces and tiny waists. This ideology has not been created overnight. This common portrayal of idealised beauty has been built up over quite some time.

Even though other key influences in society have led to this way of thought, it is safe to say that the fashion industry has been the main influence on both men and women for this mindset for decades, both in the past and  at present.

Popular style publications including the likes of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar are generally known to publicise the so-called 'ideal' face and body. The way women think about themselves is often driven by these famous magazines, leading to an internal self-destruction by their more vulnerable readers.

However, both these high-profile magazines have made conscious efforts to change in recent years. They are definitely aiming to be more diverse in terms of the race, size and age of the models they feature on their front covers. This instantly made a difference in the way many people perceived the fashion industry, as more accepting of everyone, regardless of how they look. Ultimately, this is a win-win. We mere mortals feel worthwhile, and luxury fashion brands are likely to achieve more sales of their pieces, which appear to be suitable to a wider range of consumers.

Female models are required to maintain a dainty UK size 6-8 figure, whilst ideally having a general height of 5’ 8” or taller. This could be considered to be an unrealistic shape to keep up by most people’s standards. Male models tend to have an above average height of at least 5’ 10” and, typically, a slim figure too.

The models you see walking the runway tend to be slightly taller than standard editorial models. The fashion industry has subtly defended their decision to hire slimmer men and women for fashion week shows, arguing that attention needs to be kept on the clothing being shown rather than on the people modelling them. But does that really justify the reasoning behind hiring models that are only of a certain size?

Smaller shocking influences include a well publicised group titled ‘Overweight Haters Ltd’. They were best known for handing out body shaming style cards with quotes such as “It’s not really glandular, it’s your gluttony” to people taking a journey on the London Underground. You can easily see how women in particular have adapted to this unhealthy and unreasonable way of thinking. However, men are definitely guilty of this too to some degree.

Despite the negative influences of what is deemed to be beautiful in today’s society, it appears that there is a breaking point. Change is finally well and truly happening in this tough to crack industry.

It is widely accepted that the majority of popular publications routinely airbrush their images in order to achieve that perfect look. Teenage branded Seventeen Magazine is one of the few publications to have finally fought back and taken action. They are no longer airbrushing their photographs on their regular print or online editions.

However, it seems magazines aren’t the only ones who are jumping on this bandwagon. Within the last few months, it appears that womens' online fashion brands are also taking the leap. High-profile companies such as ASOS and Missguided have decided to stop airbrushing images on their websites too. Does this mean that the industry is slowly coming round to accepting a wider range of people?

It can be said that there is also some subtle change happening on the catwalk. There is substantial evidence that they are beginning to allow models of a more diverse range into the industry who are therefore able to become models for high-profile modelling agencies.

It will be very interesting to see developments of this trend over the next few years in terms of the idea of beauty in the fashion industry. Their once one-track ideas are slowly diverting towards normality, providing a closer reflection of society. It would be good to see them progress further in that direction. And the sooner, the better.

What do you think? Let me know.

Isabelle Herring, April 2018

If you liked this, you will enjoy these from Isabelle too:
     Cardiff Fashion Week 2017; December 2017
     Bloggers and vloggers; September 2017
     Graduate Fashion Week 2017; June 2017
     London Fashion Week A/W 2017; March 2017
     Cardiff Fashion Week 2016; December 2016
     Cardiff Fashion Week 2016 preview; September 2016
     Role models, September 2016
     Fashion Week Australia S/S 2016, June 2016
     New York Fashion Week F/W 2016; March 2016
     bloggers and vloggers; December 2015
     Review: Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty; October 2015
     Festival essentials; June 2015
     New York Fashion Week F/W 2015; March 2015
     Does size really matter?; December 2014
     Looking for value?; September 2014

Isabelle blogs on fashion as Isabelle Rachel!

… and her other pages:
     Facebook: issy.herring
     Blog Facebook page: isabellerachelblog 

     Twitter: @IssyHerring
     Instagram: issyherring

     Pinterest: issyherring

cylchgrawn Cymru Culture magazine
Published by/Cyhoeddwyd gan: Caregos Cyf., 2018

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